The Faerie Queens - A Collection of Essays Exploring the Myths, Magic and Mythology of the Faerie Queens by Sorita D'este
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Perhaps it is pertinent to state that faeries or faery queen are not those cute little, winged pixies that flutter around leaving behind glittering pixie dust and neither are their queens. Several different faerie queens are written about in this work and all of the essays are very informative. It must be noted that several of the faerie queen were in fact one time considered goddesses and then got reduced or demoted to faerie queens. Such Goddesses would include Hekate, Diana, Caileach, Morigan and Melusine.
Of all the essays it is hard to determine which one I liked the best as they were all informative and I learned something new. Faeries of old prior to the Victorian age had a very fearsome aspect and most people tried their best to avoid them. Faerie Queens like Diana, Hekate and Prosperina were considered to be underworld queens who ruled over the dead. On Samhain and Yule they would go about on a wild hunt with a retinue of faeries and dead souls in their train. Anyone seen wandering about would be scooped up and carried off to the faerie realm.
In stories like Tam Lin and Thomas Rhymer faerie queens could come by and swoop up an unsuspecting poet or beautiful man and take him off to faery land. In Tam Liny’s case he is rescued by a maiden named Janet. In Thomas Rhymer’s case the faery queen lets him go after seven years. Faeries are not always nice. Yet there are stories filled with instances of when a man marries a faery maiden under the condition of a vow, which when broken sends the faerie queen away sometimes with her children sometimes wit out. In the case of Melusine, who was cursed with a dragon tale for imprisoning her father, her husband looked at her on Saturday and that caused her to flee.
Sometimes faery queen come to our land to dwell and infuse it with magic.In the Mabinogian story of Pewel and Rhainan. Rhianon is faery queen who left fae land to escape an unwanted marriage and chose to live with an earthly king. She is feared and resepcted. Rhianon is also conflated with Epona the horse Goddess. The Horse was the all providing goddess in Europe and her form was a horse. Horses are also psychopomps as they lead people to various places upon their death.
One faery queen coming from the sea eloped with an old fisherman, giving him gifts she let him dwell in his town for 9 years before taking him away to her underwater realm. Another husband of this same faery queen was Matthew, a church official of sorts. When he became her husband he never really abandoned the town but would sound the bell every time disaster would strike.
Another faery maiden associated with the Celtic Sea God Manaan, fell in love with a mortal but was swept away by a great tidal wave. Some say that she is still alive and can here her howling in the sea wind.
Faerie queens also had a triple goddess aspect to them. We must remember that the latin root of faerie is fata which means fate. In the Greeks mythos there were three sisters who were in charge of the fate of man and the gods. This probably transferred over to the fairy queens. Queens were also associated with the ocean and bodies of water along with the moon.
Cliff Seruntine compares the glastig to the Caileachs. Both have many parallels. Cailleach might have been an earth mother who was at her peak during the ice age as she protected giant deer and elk. She had her own territory and was good to those who followed the laws of hospitality. Those that wronged her could expect some retribution. The glastig though smaller in scale also watched over animals.
Included in this book are several invocation, including some that were used in grimoires. A worthy read that is most informative.
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